Monday, August 13, 2007

My Baby is in Kindergarten

we interrupt the regularly scheduled travelogue for this story....

The May Queen started Kindergarten today. Yes, yes, I know. It is hotter than hell and still the middle of summer. But not in Louisiana. Well, it is in Louisiana, too, but it is also back to school time.

I've written before about how we fought to get The May Queen into kindergarten this year, and how I struggled over the summer with this decision. Yesterday I watched her bare little body picking out clothes from her closet and marvelled, could this little body, this baby, be starting kindergarten? Later I looked at her feet in her sandals and saw her baby feet. Surely those feet could not stand on their own in kindergarten.

The May Queen was excited. We had her uniform set out for the next day. I decorated her school bag with her name, flowers, and a giraffe (her favorite animal!). I made a cover for her nap mat out of an old sheet (I'm so domestic! And thrifty! I'll be up for mother of the year!). She picked her colorful blanket to take with her for rest time. She even asked if she could take Teddy along, as she couldn't sleep without him (I doubted her ability to nap at all, as she gave napping up a full 2 years ago, but kindergarten is a full day -7 hours!- and rest time is mandated by the state) . I told her we would put him in her bag, and ask her teacher in the morning.

This morning I had set my alarm so that I could get up in time. School begins at 8am and I am not a morning person. I got up, grumpy, as I had not slept well since MQ crawled into bed with us sometime around 1, and appx. every hour on the hour after that I woke up with a knee in my back. I could have moved her, I suppose, but in the middle of the night I don't always think of these things.

As I was taking my shower she woke up and went downstairs with her daddy, who got her a bowl of cereal for breakfast. Then she appeared in the bathroom, crying. It hurt when she swallowed. Could my baby be sick? On her first day of kindergarten! No! I joined them downstairs, and we tried softer foods. Pancakes. More tears. A bowl of applesauce. More tears. I looked down her throat with the trusty hippo flashlight. It looked like she had scraped her throat with that first bite of cereal. Otherwise, she had no other symptoms. We decided she was not sick. As we started getting dressed, she began coughing hard, painful coughs. Forced coughs. And she cried. I held her in my lap and asked what was wrong. She just cried and coughed. My husband looked on, helpless. This is not usual behavior for our May Queen, who was just yesterday leaping about talking all about her new school and her new teacher. I told her I would wait until she calmed down. When she did, I asked her if she was nervous, and she said she was. We talked a little bit about what it would be like, what might happen. She started to get dressed. She started to smile. Then she worried she would cry at snack time. I told her that mouths heal very fast, but that if she thought it would hurt, to just say she wasn't hungry. She nodded, seriously. She could do that. By the time we finished getting her dressed she was happy, ready to go.

OK, not quite THIS happy. This picture was taken AFTER school. She refused to have her picture taken before school. It was a battle I chose not to fight

When we arrived at school the children were lining up with their classes in the gym. It is a small, private school, and today in the kindergarten class only the girls were there. MQ went easily and sat by her teacher while I went and stood at the edge and watched. She got a name tag. She stood and said the morning prayers, the pledge. Then she followed the teacher back to the room. We parents were invited to help them get their things into their cubby, and say goodbye. MQ took the bag with her mat and blanket from my hand. "I'll carry this" she said. She put her things away. She walked right up to her teacher and asked if she could bring out Teddy at nap time ("of course"). And she walked into her classroom. I had to call her back out to give me a hug.

I was so worried this morning. I had never seen my baby behave that way, so scared, so unable to say what was wrong. I worried I was pushing her. I debated crawling back into bed with her, calling in sick. Spending the day coloring and playing and tickling. But that big girl at school? The one who ran into the room without a backwards glance at me? That's the girl that I know will thrive in kindergarten. I wasn't quite prepared for how quickly it would happen this morning... that one moment she would be this baby by my side, and the next she would be walking eagerly away from me. I wanted to take some more time to linger. To see her new classroom. To make the transition. But she needed to do that without me.

Go ahead and jump right in, baby. The sky is the limit.

Don't mind me. I'll just cry quietly on the way home.

(As you can imagine, she had a wonderful first day of kindergarten. She even slept during nap time. When she came home, we invited the neighbors over to enjoy that delicious pencil cake.)


26 comments:

Julie Pippert said...

Oh beautiful girl...so it went well. How wonderful. Very touching post, and scary. This is us in a few weeks!

Julie
Ravin' Picture Maven

NotSoSage said...

Oh, this made me get all emotional. We're a couple years away from this, but still!

Beautiful, brave little May Queen, happy first day of school!

bubandpie said...

I think you need to frame that photo - the way her bag matches the door and her dress matches the siding? Erm, I mean, that huge grin of accomplishment on her face? Amazing.

Joy, of course said...

I am not sure I am up for MayQueens story today, I am still a sniveling sap over here. But look at the beautiful girl, so happy and confident coming home from her first day. And what a wonderful mom you are to mark the day so beautifully, with a pencil cake. I think she may remember that always.

jen said...

oh honey. i can't bear to think of it really. but yet it happens and she's brilliant and you'll be ok. you will and she is.

what a gorgeous smile.

Jennifer said...

Oh, First Day! The emotional roller coaster!

I would like to tell you that it gets better (for the mama) after the first send off. It does not. Each year, it seems, I'm weepy. But for them...well, they quickly learn to fly. *sniff, sniff*.

I love, love that photo of your girl "flying"!

ewe are here said...

I'm absolutely thrilled that she enjoyed her first day of Kindergarten -- and I feel for you, too, sending 'your baby' off to school. It all goes by so fast, it seems.

The pictures are lovely, and MF is sitting in my lap admiring your beautiful, happy girl as I type.:-)

Beck said...

Aw. I'm going to make the heart-wrenching transition to two kids in school full-time this fall, so this really touched my heart. You have a sweet growing-up girl over there.

thirtysomething said...

OOOOHHH. Sweet moments. Such a wonderfully bittersweet time the first day of school is.
I have experienced the same thing twice now(two down, two to go)--my boys just walked right in, even my Max, who has always "needed" his mommy more than his brother. It is amazing, the transformation from Baby to Big Girl/Boy.
It deserves tears, don't worry.
I absolutely love the photo of her with her hands in the air...breathtaking.

slouching mom said...

Oh, oh, oh.

As Julie said, this is us in a few weeks.

And as Beck said, I am looking at weekdays without kids for the first time, well, ever.

Scary but wonderful.

She's gorgeous.

(Love the cake!)

Magpie said...

Oh - sweet scared intrepid little one. She's lovely.

Aliki2006 said...

This made me relive that first day of kindergarten all over again. Sniff.

I'm so glad it went well. Hooray!

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Sigh.... This is me in two weeks, too. My kid has to take the bus, and I'm more worried about that than anything else. I just put him on a bus! And hope everything goes right! ... I want to pin a GPS on him : )

Karen said...

oh, lovely girl, how amazing. And wise of you to pause and cry and celebrate.

Furrow said...

Cool cake. And I love those photos of MQ. Sounds like a good day. You were both big girls, after all.

nomotherearth said...

That cake AND the blanket? You are definitely in line for Mother of the Year!

That last picture of MQ is priceless - I hope you have it up on a wall somewhere to look at it all the time. There's just so much happiness there. It makes me smile.

thailandchani said...

What a wonderful story.. and it really gives me a glimpse into what that's like. I don't remember my own first day, obviously, since it was over 50 years ago.. and have never experienced it by watching a child just start.

How cool! :)


Peace,

~Chani
http://thailandgal.blogspot.com

niobe said...

A wonderful story. And that pencil cake? Just brilliant.

PastorMac's Ann said...

Lovely! She truly looks like such a young lady in her uniform with her book bag. What a precious daughter you have! Cherish every moment.

Thanks for sharing her first day of school with us.

mean mommy said...

I found you while blog surfing today. I felt EXACTLY the same way when I dropped my son off for his first day this year, that it happened too fast. He just went in with a quick hug and that was it. I wanted more! I, too, wanted to linger.

I have a feeling this isn't the last time we will feel that way.

Beautiful post.

Alpha DogMa said...

Good for her. My eldest boy starts in two weeks...I think. Damn, I'm gonna need to git one of dem der calender-tingies to whip my SAHM-ass into shape.

So is the seven hour school day standard for all of the US, or just Louisiana or just for that private school? My guy will do less than three hours a day four days a week - so seven hours sounds HUGE to me.

KarenKT said...

such a sweet, tear-jerking post. thanks for sharing. thanks for being a sweet mom by making a cake and taking pictures and for reminding us all that the transition is for them more so than for us.

AmandaD said...

Wow. Such deft weaving of aching beauty and chatting-with-friends-candor.

blooming desertpea said...

Hurray to the first day!!

Honestly, did you expect any less? Of course she would do brilliantly - but look at her, one happy girl, and that's the way it should be - hope it stay this way for a long, long time ...

Sober Briquette said...

congratulations!

And she slept? (I confess, that's my biggest concern with my daughter starting full day Kindergarten: the rest time.)

creative-type dad said...

Wow! such a milestone (and great cake)